RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue has issued pardons to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution.
Perdue issued a pardon of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one white woman sentenced to a combined almost 300 years in prison for the 1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store that occurred after police shot a black teenager. The pardon means the state no longer thinks the group committed a crime.
The three key witnesses in the case later recanted their testimony. Amnesty International and other groups took up the issue, portraying the Wilmington 10 as political prisoners.